When you feel overwhelmed from caring for someone with dementia, Alzheimer’s support groups can help you cope with the stress and sadness of ensuring your loved one receives the best care possible. Dementia support services will provide access to counselors, doctors and other people who are also experiencing the difficulties of being an Alzheimer’s caregiver. In addition, many of these support organizations also offer comprehensive libraries filled with dementia resources that describe and explain all aspects and types of dementia.
Signs of Caregiver “Burnout”
Caregiver burnout is a term used to refer to caregivers who have been doing the job for a long time and have no support or assistance with their caregiving duties. It is defined as:
- Feeling constantly exhausted even if you manage to get enough sleep.
- Feeling unappreciated, irritable and depressed.
- Feeling empty and emotionless, even when something should make you feel happy.
- Excessive use of alcohol or anxiety medications during the day while you are engaged in your caregiving duties.
- Problems with concentrating and/or inability to make decisions.
- Treating your loved one with less compassion, neglecting him or her or even becoming rough with the dementia patient.
Sometimes when coping with dementia patients eight to ten hours a day, five to seven days a week, caregivers can experience such profound burnout that they may suffer severe feelings of hopelessness leading to suicide ideation. Fortunately, resources provided by Alzheimer’s support groups can lend a much needed helping hand by putting distressed caregivers in touch with professional counselors and other people who understand and empathize with the heartbreaking situation overwhelming them.
More on Dealing with Dementia and Alzheimer’s…
The Internet offers a vast amount of medical information and symptomatology resources concerning of all types of dementia. In addition, you can also find help with legal advice, Medicaid assistance, where to find respite care and a variety of other issues that worry caregivers and add to the stress of providing dementia caring services for a loved one.
Support Group Benefits
Psychological research into the benefits of caregiver support groups show that befriending others experiencing the same problems can enhance all aspects of a person’s life. Most importantly, support groups are capable of educating caregivers about successfully using coping skills to handle the demands of caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease. Just talking to other people are experiencing the same powerful feelings you are feeling as a caregiver can often help relieve the burden of guilt and anger affecting your emotional and physical health.
Caregivers Without the Help of Alzheimer’s Support Groups
Nearly 45 million U.S. citizens who are over 18 currently provide support (unpaid) to adults with dementia and other disabilities. Most caregivers are not prepared to take on a role that demands tasks similar in repetition and design to hospital nursing duties. As a result, studies into what happens to unsupported, isolated caregivers who are suddenly thrust into the job of caring for someone 12 to 16 hours a day, seven days a week reveals an alarming decline in mental and physical health. These problems include:
- Clinical depression and generalized anxiety
- Low self-esteem and loss of self-identity
- Loss of self-control
- High blood pressure
- Acid reflux disease
- Chronic headaches and joint pain
- Susceptibility to illnesses due to a compromised immune system
- Significant weight gain or weight loss
Because caregivers are not as vigilant about taking care of themselves, they may not take the time to fix healthy meals, forget to take medication that is prescribed to them, smoke more than usual and fail to receive enough exercise. In fact, several studies examining the effects of caregiving show that caregivers are at risk for suffering premature mortality, stroke and coronary heart disease.
Dealing with Dementia and Alzheimer’s
If you are caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease and are experiencing any of these issues, do not be afraid to contact one of several Alzheimer’s support groups that will provide the help, advice and compassion you need to get you through these challenging and heartbreaking times.